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Coffee: is it good or bad for you?

Wednesday, August 16th 2023 1:00pm 7 min read
Dr. Natalia Subirats Duran dr.nataliasubirats

Licensed medical doctor and naturopathic doctor specializing in fertility, endometriosis and more. Hablo español!

Like most things in the wellness world, you have probably read a thousand times that coffee is highly beneficial for health, AND at the same time, an equal number of posts listing the possible harm. And then, rightly so, you are left wondering, what is the truth.

Well, as always, we often find the truth somewhere in between the two extremes. In this article I will present both sides, some of the benefits and some of the reasons to be cautious when it comes to coffee consumption. From there it can be easier to decide what the right choice is for you! And keep in mind what may be right in the now, may shift in the future.

Coffee is a popular beverage made from roasted coffee beans. It is typically served hot and has a rich, bitter taste. Coffee is derived from the seeds of berries from the Coffea plant. These seeds are processed, fermented, dried, and roasted to create the familiar coffee beans that are then ground and brewed with hot water. The most well known constituents is of course caffeine, a natural stimulant that can provide an energy boost and increase alertness.

Caffeine is not the only thing that coffee contains, it also contains substances called kahweol, diterpenes, and cafestol. All of them have interesting properties, and diving into some of these can help when it comes to determining the benefits and risks.

What are the known beneficial effects of coffee?

  • Increased alertness and cognitive function. Coffee contains caffeine, which stimulates the central nervous system and can help improve alertness, concentration, and overall cognitive performance.
  • Boosted metabolism and physical performance. Caffeine has been shown to increase metabolic rate and the breakdown of fat, potentially aiding in weight management. It can also enhance physical performance by improving endurance, reducing perceived exertion, and stimulating muscle contraction.
  • High Antioxidant Content. Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acids and polyphenols, which help protect the body against oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals. Antioxidants may have anti-inflammatory effects and contribute to overall health.
  • Lower Risk of Cancer. Coffee lipid fraction containing cafestol and kahweol act as a safeguard against some malignant cells by modulating the detoxifying enzymes.
  • Reduced risk of certain diseases: Studies have suggested that regular coffee consumption may be associated with a lower risk of several conditions, including Type 2 Diabetes, Parkinson’s Disease, Liver Disease (such as cirrhosis and liver cancer), and certain types of cancer (such as colorectal and endometrial cancers).
  • Improved Liver Health. Coffee has been linked to a decreased risk of liver diseases, including liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, as well as a lower incidence of liver cancer. It may also help improve liver enzyme levels and reduce the risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The interesting thing here is that for some, caffeine is too stimulating to the liver so is actually a stress on liver pathways. A good example of how it’s essential to consider the individual when assessing benefits and risks!
  • Protective Effects On The Brain. Coffee consumption has been associated with a reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. It may also improve cognitive function and memory.
  • Lowered Risk Of Depression and Improved Mood. Some studies have shown an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and the risk of depression, suggesting that moderate coffee intake may be associated with a lower risk of developing depression. Additionally, caffeine has been shown to enhance mood and reduce the risk of suicide.
    It’s important to note that the effects of coffee can vary depending on individual tolerance, preparation methods, and the addition of other ingredients.

Importance of quality

When it comes to assessing the health benefits of coffee, it’s important to note that not all coffee is created equal. For instance it’s very important to drink organically grown and processed coffee beans, because otherwise they can be loaded with pesticides. Furthermore, for most if not all people, drinking coffee that has been tested for and is not contaminated with mold is very important. The different roasts have different effects, the darker the roast the lower the caffeine content, but tends to more acidic, versus lighter roasts. If drinking decaf coffee you need to make sure its processed with water, such as the classic Swiss Water Process, other ways involve solvents which can be harmful.

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